4th Sunday of Advent Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that there are so many wonderful things from this past week:
- United Youth Basketball cranking up all week: 25 teams and nearly 250 young people are involved! Thank you, Rob Hunter.
- Staff Community Christmas Party and pajama packing on Wednesday: I love our staff community so much. We had a wonderful time wearing our favorite pajamas, eating breakfast for lunch, playing games, singing carols, and finally packing pajamas for Promise Pajamas. Thank you, Valarie Ross and Deborah Vehr!
- The Men of Hoskin’s Park on Wednesday: All 40 men and their leaders joined us this year for Prime Rib prepared by Chef Dave Sproat and Team. Learning their stories moves me every time I am in their company. Thank you, Bo Bobrowski, and all your elves that make this event possible every year.
- Home2Home Ministry: I had the privilege of being a part of Saturday’s work group picking up 55 furniture items. We were also able to help a couple load several items for their home. Through tears the mother said, “I witnessed 15 new angels in my life.” Thank you, Earl Coggins for your vision for this powerful ministry.
- Bishop Ken Carter on Sunday: I’m so grateful for his leadership to so many United Methodist Christians across Western North Carolina and Florida. His sermon reminded us, “In a very complicated time, where we don’t see the end, and yet for followers of Jesus, all we have to do is look up, for we have a star, a sign to help us in taking the next faithful step.” If you missed Sunday worship, you can watch here.
And then, of course, The Glory of Christmas. What a glorious evening and you can watch it below. Thank you, Craig Estep, and all who lead our Music & Worship Arts Ministry. As I was sitting in Sanctuary on Sunday evening awaiting the music, one of the parents of the Children’s Choir exclaimed from behind me, “Oh, I just love Christmas music! This is the best time of year!” I couldn’t help but smile and wholeheartedly agree.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Those who sing pray twice?” Well, on Sunday night all our church music groups did a lot of praying and singing. Our amazing Music & Worship Arts Ministry were simply beyond words.
By the way, a lot of amazing music in church remains for this Advent season. You don’t want to miss a single moment! Be sure and invite a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker to church; they too might need a little uplifting to bring on the Christmas spirit.
- December 19th: Nativity Service 8:15, 9:30, & 11:00 in the Sanctuary
- December 24th: Candlelight Christmas Eve Services 4:00 pm Children & Family (The Gym) 6:00 pm Contemporary (Sanctuary) 7:30 pm CCH in Espanol (The Gym) 9:00 pm Traditional (Sanctuary) (6 & 9 in person & livestream)
- December 26th & January 2: ONE Sunday Morning Worship 10:30 am Blended Service (Sanctuary) on both of these Sundays. Adult classes will meet at 9:15 am, Nursery will be available for Kids 3 and under from 9:00-11:30 am, and there will be no Kids or Youth small groups on these Sunday mornings.
I also hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the second week of Advent titled “Come Down.”
Celebrating Pastor Brad
I announced a few weeks ago about Pastor Brad transitioning to be a part of the leadership team with the South America Mission (headquartered in Fort Mill, SC) in mid-January. His last Sunday with us is January 9.
May I encourage all of us to celebrate Pastor Brad’s ministry. You can do so by writing a “Note of Gratitude” which you can drop off or mail to the Church Office: Matthews UMC, c/o Pastor Brad Hopper, 801 South Trade St., Matthews, NC 28105. In addition, I hope you will also contribute to a love gift for Pastor Brad and his family by sharing a gift directly with him (non-taxable for Brad) or mail a check with a “Love Gift – Pastor Brad” marked in the memo line or click here to make your gift online (taxable for Brad).
Pastor Brad and his family are a beloved part of our community. Let’s honor this deeply devoted pastor and family for their service among us with gratitude from the deepest places of our heart.
Estimates of Giving for 2022
Thank you to so many of you who have made your estimate of giving for 2022. If you have not yet done so, please fill out your estimate by clicking here. Your estimates of giving give us our best way to accurately plan for all the ministries and programs God is calling us to do next year. Thank you!
Let’s Finish 2021 Strong
A very special thank you to every member and supporter of Matthews United Methodist (MUMC) who makes it possible for us to make God’s love real in our community and world. Ministry in 2021 has impacted untold numbers of people in the name of Jesus, providing hope, encouragement, support, and critical necessities. Thank you so much for being a part of a community of faith that takes our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ seriously.
As we come to the close of 2021, I want to update you on our financial position and share some year-end strategies that may allow you to lower your tax bill while you support the work of Christ in our world through MUMC. Everyone’s tax situation is different, so we encourage you to consult with a financial advisor if you have any questions or concerns about these giving strategies.
Financial Update and MUMC in 2021: Mission and ministry kicked back into full action this year even though many members and supporters haven’t fully returned to church. We still have quite a way to go to reach our 2021 income projections. As of Tuesday, December 14, we need $295,809 to make our 2021 budget. As you consider your year-end giving, please keep MUMC and the mission of Jesus front and center. We recognize that some people have been negatively impacted in 2020 and 2021 and have had to lower their estimates of giving. We also recognize that others have been abundantly blessed financially. Prayerfully consider if God may be calling you to increase your giving in 2021.
Check Your Estimate of Giving: Many of us made our estimate of giving for 2021 in November of 2020. Revisit your estimate to see where you stand, and prayerfully consider an additional gift if you find that you have been blessed beyond your expectations in 2021!
Give Appreciated Stock: Many folks have seen stock investment values rise over the past couple of years. You can give appreciated stock directly to MUMC and avoid incurring long-term capital gains taxes on stocks you have held for over one year.
Max Out Your Charitable Deduction: The charitable giving incentive through the CARES Act of 2020 was expanded to the 2021 tax year to allow the following deductions for individual taxpayers:
- For Non-itemizers: Those who take the standard deduction are eligible to claim a charitable deduction up to $300 for single filers and $600 for a married couple.
- For Itemizers: Those who itemize their deductions may deduct cash contributions up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) to qualified non-profit organizations like MUMC.
Make a Gift through a Retirement Plan: If you are 70 ½ years of age, you can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD), also known as IRA Rollover from your IRA up to $100,000 annually.
Thank you again for your generosity! We look forward to the special seasonal days ahead and a blessed year in 2022.
This Sunday in Worship
In these Advent days, we pause and quiet our hearts and return to our true and only hope: in Jesus, God has come into the world. We are not alone. The world, and each of our lives, are not spiraling into oblivion or chaos because (and these words make us both laugh and tremble) God has come among us. God has enacted scandalous mercy. Despite all the odds and even amid every trouble that tempts us to believe otherwise, a baby has forever changed the human story. Evil overwhelmed by justice. Wounds mended by mercy. Loneliness and isolation undone. Animosities submerged in healing love.
We cling, with all our hope, to these promises. But here’s the good, good news: these promises come from the One who is faithful and true, the One who has come among us and is coming again. The One who always keeps his promises.
As Wendell Berry says, “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.”
We invite you to join us this Sunday in person or online at 8:15 am (traditional – in person only), 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish – in person only).
In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan continues in the Advent series, Something Good is Yet to Come. This Sunday he will be preaching from Luke 1:46-55. His sermon title, The Worshipper Who Pleases God.
In our morning services, we arrive at what may be one of the most anticipated worship services of the entire year, The Children’s Nativity. In addition, our sacred Song of the Season be the beautiful, lilting What Child is This? and our scripture lesson for the morning will be Isaiah 9:6.
And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and hopeful days of pandemic remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Advent mercies, and (very soon) Merry Christmas,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Chris Davis is normally our Sunday morning police officer? His son, Jordan, won the Outland Trophy for being the top college defensive lineman in college football! Jordan plays for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
Did you know that Karen Kraynock, a member of MUMC, is retiring from First Baptist Church – Matthews at the end of this year? Karen has worked at FBC for 17 ½ years, and is the Ministry Assistant to Missions/Evangelism. Karen has always had a heart for missions which is why she started the Servant’s Heart women’s circle at MUMC. Karen currently serves on our Global Impact Team and looks forward to becoming more involved with our mission efforts during retirement. Congrats, Karen!
Did you know that our redesigned website at MatthewsUMC.org launched with a simple, user-centric experience as directed by Our Faithful Next Steps feedback? Thank you to Shannon Williams, our Director of Communications, and our volunteer team — Kim Holt, Sarah Carlton, Damien and Erika Akelman — who all had an integral role in the design.
Did you know that over 200 gift bags containing gloves, hats, scarves and socks were packed by families at our Family Worship “Light Show” Service on Sunday. These bags will be given to our Mission partners, Room in the Inn, Dove’s Nest and COS kids. Amazing Job United Kids families!